Our History

The History of Bishop Garrigan High School

Bishop Garrigan High School opened its doors in 1959 to consolidate secondary Catholic education for students from St. Benedict, St. Cecelia, St. Michael, St. Joseph, and St. Joseph parishes in southern Kossuth County. The five-parish Garrigan corporation governed operations at the secondary school.

Throughout its history, five men have served as chief administrators of the school. Father Francis Conway was the first superintendent. The Golden Bear football stadium is named Conway Field in his honor. Father Cecil Friedmann followed Fr. Conway as superintendent. Basketball games, plays, and concerts are now held in Friedmann Auditorium, which was named in his honor. Fr. Friedmann was followed by Father Gerald Feierfeil, who changed the title of the chief administrator from superintendent to president. Mr. Eugene Meister followed Fr. Feierfeil as president and became the first lay administrator of a high school in the Sioux City Diocese. Currently the Bishop Garrigan president is Lynn Miller.

In the early 1990s the area Catholic elementary schools were merged into the single Seton Grade School in Algona. At that time a single governing board assumed responsibility for both Seton and Garrigan. Shortly thereafter, the high school officially changed its name to Bishop Garrigan High School, to better denote the Catholic identity of the school.

Bishop Garrigan Schools continues to provide educational and spiritual opportunities for students from all five member parishes. With the closing of St. John High School in Bancroft in 1989, a number of families from that parish chose to send their children to Bishop Garrigan. In addition the school has served students from other Catholic parishes in the area (such as Livermore, Emmetsburg, Britt, and Humboldt), as well as non-Catholic students who wish to learn in a Christian environment.

The first faculty of Garrigan High School consisted of two priests, twelve sisters, and four lay teachers. The sisters were members of two religious communities from Dubuque, Iowa: the Sisters of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary (PVBM) and the Sisters of St. Francis of the Holy Family (OSF). Enrollment for the first school year (1959 - 1960) was 318 students, grades 9 - 12.

The Sisters of the Presentation have continued to serve Bishop Garrigan throughout its history. Their numbers declined from nine or ten from 1959 to 1972 to one in 2004. The Sisters of St. Francis staffed Garrigan for a total of twenty-three years, providing three sisters per year. Decreasing numbers of sisters forced their reluctant withdrawal from the school in 1982. Other religious communities at Garrigan included the Sisters of Humility (CHM) from Ottumwa (now Davenport) from 1966 - 1970 and the Sisters of St. Francis (OSF) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin from 1970 - 1972.

Peak enrollment ranging from 503 to 511 at Garrigan came between 1966 and 1969. The teaching staff at that time included fifteen sisters, six priests, seven lay men, and three lay women. Since that time enrollment has declined in both public and Catholic schools throughout the rural Midwest. Today Bishop Garrigan educates slightly under 200 students. The teaching staff includes one priest and one religious deacon, together with seventeen full- or part-time lay teachers. One sister serves in an administrative capacity.

Over the years many graduates of Bishop Garrigan have chosen vocations as priests and sisters. These include Fr. Paul Eisele and Sr. Janet Goetz, the Bishop Garrigan registrar. The most recent graduate to dedicate his life to Christ was Fr. Nick Becker, who was ordained a priest in 2002.

The exterior structure of Bishop Garrigan High School has remained essentially the same since its opening in 1959, although improvements such as a paved parking lot have been made in recent years. The interior has been renovated on many occasions. Recent renovations include a an expanded music area, remodeled office facilities, a new weight room and fitness area, handicapped access to the entire building, carpeting in many classrooms, and a school wide computer network. A successful campaign "Continuing the Tradition ... Expanding the Vision" raised money for an additional state-of-the-art gym, additional classroom space and offices.

Philosophy of Bishop Garrigan High School

We believe that every individual has been created and gifted by God with an innate dignity. The right to freedom and the right to learn are inherent in this dignity.

We believe that, as a person with an immortal destiny, each individual must be accepted as unique and important. Therefore, as much as possible, the needs of each student must be recognized and met, the potential of each student developed, and the contributions of each student accepted.

We believe that all human beings are created by God as a part of a larger community and have a responsibility to develop their gifts, for themselves and for services to their community, in order to build a just and peace-filled world.

We see the students of Bishop Garrigan High School as young adults in the process of becoming Christians, effective citizens, and whole human beings. Therefore, through both classroom and extracurricular activities, the goals of Bishop Garrigan High School are:

to develop students with a true sense of community, who see themselves as devoted and caring members of their family, their school, their church, their nation, and their world;
to develop spiritually vigorous Christians who recognize and act upon Catholic obligations and convictions;
to develop youth who can think logically, express themselves clearly, and maintain open and inquiring minds;
to develop in youth the qualities of cooperation, sportsmanship, leadership, and service;
to develop persons of sound mental and physical health;
to develop youth who recognize their talents and limitations and can determine their suitable occupation or vocation.

Biography of Bishop Garrigan

Phillip Joseph Garrigan was born September 8, 1840 at Cavan, Ireland. He was educated in America at St. Charles' College in Ellicott City, Md. and St. Joseph's Provincial Seminary in Troy, N. Y. After graduating from seminary he was ordained a priest on June 11, 1870. His first assignment was as parish priest at St. John's Church in Worcester, Massachusetts, where he served from 1870 - 1873. He was then vice president of St. Joseph's Seminary.

Father Garrigan's longest assignment as a parish priest was at St. Bernard's Church in Fitchburg, Massachusetts. He served there from 1875 to 1888. After that he became vice-rector of the Catholic University of America, in Washington, D.C., where he served through the start of the 20th Century.

On January 15, 1902, Pope Leo XIII created the Diocese of Sioux City by separating twenty-four frontier counties in northwest Iowa from the Archdiocese of Dubuque. Phillip Garrigan was appointed Bishop of Sioux City on March 21, 1902, and he was ordained a bishop on May 25, 1902. He served the Diocese of Sioux City until he died on October 14, 1919.

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